M Stories

M Stories: Zhumazhan & Gianni Mean Agro-Business

Grade 11 students Zhumazhan Balapanov and Gianni Samwer are co-founders of Astyk Market, an agricultural sector B2B e-commerce platform that is already creating buzz in its intended market of Central Asia. In a recent article published in Digital Business Khazakstan, the headline reads "These students are only 17, but have already launched a B2B marketplace for farm products." (Click here to read the article in English.)
On a mission to connect the agri world, Astyk is an online platform that allows farmers to skip past the "complex web of selling structures" that force farmers to "navigate through layers of traders and brokers, each taking a share of their hard-earned profits." Instead, farmers can use the online platform Astyk-Marketplace to negotiate directly between the growers and the sellers, ensuring that intermediaries are removed from the sales chain.
How did they do it? Gianni and Zhumazhan used a lot of AI to help support farmers who may not have the essential digital literacy skills to navigate the marketplace on their own. AI bots help farmers update their inventory and negotiate with sellers through an AI bot chat-based interface, "reducing the onboarding time and flattening the learning curve for tech non-native users." The platform not only adds enormous benefit to farmers.  Gianni and Zhumazhan have create an interface akin to any e-commerce platform so that the purchasing process is seamless and easy for the buyers.
The sophistication of their Beta launch is beyond belief. Gianni and Zhumazhan have an investment pitch boasting 7 beta customers, successful beta transactions worth over 100,000 USD, and an ever-growing lead pipeline that attests to the relevance of their service. The feedback they've gotten from their beta clients includes the CEO of KazFoodProducts who confirms that "the problem that Astyk Market tackles is very serious. With the correct set of features, it might change the way the whole industry operates."
When asked how they've managed to balance their lives to include excelling at school and having time to build a business, Zhumashan challenges each of us to "take a moment to look at your Instagram or TikTok screen time. Surprising, right? We often spend 2+ hours on these apps daily. Imagine using that time for your own projects or school work. That's how I manage school and founding Astyk while still having a life and being able to go out. It's honestly just about smart time management and hard work. So I encourage people to check their screen time and repurpose those hours into doing something they are passionate about."
Zhumazhan arrived in Germany in 2014 and has been an MIS students ever since.  His family comes from Kazakhstan and has deep roots in the agriculture sector. He has completed internships at bioethanol and grain processing facilities and published his first research paper on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) in the 'Petroleum Journal' in February of 2024 (page 48).  He credits MIS as being "crucial in my journey, always encouraging creativity and, most importantly nurturing the pursuit for passion. MIS's supportive environment was important in helping me discover my passion for agriculture and turning it into the venture of Astyk Market today. Looking ahead, the goal for Gianni and I is to finalise our product with the help of venture capital and angel investors. We're gearing up to onboard our beta customers, and excited to transition into the operational phase and start generating revenue. To the community, my message would be: Always dream big. No matter the skepticism or doubt you encounter. Remember that no dream is too small, and with consistency any dream can be turned into an achievement".  
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